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Jewish soldiers refuse to share Seder table with Druze comrades

Druze soldiers used to think their uniform will exempt them from the racism prevalent in Jewish Israeli society. They ought to seriously rethink this assumption. 

During Seder night last week, a group of Jewish soldiers refused to share the same table with Druze soldiers in training base Camp 80. An officer ordered the soldiers to eat at the same table, and one of the Jewish soldiers said he has no intention of dining with Arabs. Instead handcuffing the fanatic and throwing him into the brig until his court-martial, the other officers gave in to the Jewish fanatic, ordering the Druze soldiers to move to a dirty side-table (Hebrew).

I spent most of my own conscripted military service in the heart of the Gaza Strip, in the Civil Administration Unit in Dir El Balah. Don’t let the name mislead you – we were all in uniform. Since our job demanded daily contact with the Palestinian population, the unit contained a high percentage of Druze soldiers and officers, whose mother tongue was Arabic. Relations between the Jewish and Druze soldiers were good: I remember than one Saturday night, since the secular Jews couldn’t (and I wouldn’t) Samir, the Special Duties Officer, recited the Kiddush by popular demand.

I remember a long conversations with one of the Druze soldiers. He insisted on supporting Meir Martin Kahane, and I tried explaining to him that Kahane is an equal-opportunity Jewish supremacist who hates all non-Jews equally, and that he will deprive them of their rights – particularly of the right to command Jewish troops. The conversation turned to Druze service, and I asked him why so many Druze take up a military career. He said bitterly that as long as they are in uniform, it’s “grab some food soldier, here, have a discount,” but that as soon as they are discharged, it’s “You want a job? But you’re an Arab!”

He divided Israeli society into four classes: on top were the ultra-Orthodox, who did not serve in the IDF but enjoyed all the benefits of government largesse; below them were regular Jews, who did serve and enjoyed said benefits; below them, Palestinian Israelis, who did not serve and did not get any benefits; and at the bottom were the Druze, who served long and hard and got no benefit at all. And yet, he said, the Druze get something out of wearing the uniform – from the public if not from the government.

In other words, under the IDF green they can’t see you’re an Arab.

That was a long time ago, and much has changed. The Druze citizens started understanding, already then, that the State of Israel wants them as soldiers, but would not grant them real equality. The 1990s were the years of yearly demonstrations by Druze leaders in front of the Knesset, which yielded them little.

The Druze are not stupid. We keep hearing, in the last few years, of a decline in the number of Druze who wish to serve, and a poll conducted a few years back by Haifa University found (Hebrew) that only 36 percent of them wanted the forced draft to go on, with 47 percent saying the service should become voluntary and 17 percent thinking it should be fully abolished. That is, a majority of the Druze understood that the only thing they are likely to get out of the glorified “Blood Alliance” between Jews and Druze is blood, and they would like to bow out.

When I had that conversation in early 1990, this was just a hypothetical debate. Kahane himself would be surgically removed a few months later. But four years later, following the Goldstein massacre in Hebron, we found out that Goldstein refused, as a military doctor, to treat Druze soldiers – because, as non-Jews, he was forbidden to treat them even for payment. This was hushed. A few years later, Druze soldiers began complaining of being singled out by settlers for special abuse, particularly because of their non-Jewishness.

Kahane used to say that inside every Jew lives a small Kahane. That little Kahane emerged during that Seder night. The problem is not the racist soldiers, at least not the heart of it; the problem are the officers who folded before strident racism. That’s how it goes: when the State is defined as Jewish, and its army is becoming more and more “Jewish,” this is what happens to non-Jews. After all, as far as most of the Jews living in Israel are concerned, their Jewishness is their only claim to pride, and they consider it to be racial, hereditary, that this is what it means to be part of the Jewish people. The official ideology of the state says it is Jewish first and democratic later. So, how come they have to share a meal with non-Jews? What do you take them for, Israelis?

That’s what happens when the government is making a long-time effort to erode the civil conscience of its residents and replace it with ethnic pride. There is no space devoid of this lingering disease. If someone thought it would not reach the army, he was deluding himself.

The IDF now has just one way out of this mine field: Avoiding the error it made when he caved in to the voices demanding the sidelining of women. He has to find the officers responsible, and screw them up so thoroughly no one will ever even think about doing it again. This requires a public ceremony of demotion for harming the IDF’s value of comradeship, and serving a few months in jail for allowing racial discrimination against their soldiers.

But, of course, if this happens, the senior brass will be blamed for preferring non-Jewish soldiers over Jews, who were merely trying to maintain their racial purity. The idea of an army with republican values is ludicrous when the country turned its back on it a long time ago.

If the brass do their duty, they will take fire from the Hesder rabbis. But if they don’t, then the army can – should – say goodbye to its Druze soldiers. I doubt there is any better reason, as far as the Druze are concerned, to dismantle the one-sided alliance forced on them by the State of Israel, than a semi-official acknowledgement by the IDF they are second class soldiers.

And when that happens, Israel will find itself facing a bitter minority, which knows that despite having given the state everything it could, it is discriminated against in all spheres of life; and that it has pledged its loyalty to an ethnocracy too racist even to accept the possibility of granting equality to former soldiers. Unlike the Palestinians, this minority knows how to fight – it has been trained by the IDF for decades and in fact the Druze were conscripted much because of their martial reputation. And when the spark comes which will ignite this keg of powder, Jewish Israel will hold its hands together and say in a broken voice: “And after everything that we did for them!”

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Palestinian

      Why dont they share their meal with Ido Kozikaro ..?!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Buzz Fugazi

      I suppose its just a matter of time before American secular lefty Jews like myself are just as low as the Druze in the minds of the Jewish Taliban, if we’re not there already.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Beholder

      Totally unthinkable and utterly disgusting.
      I’m certain that these soldiers will be punished accordingly and the commander will be demoted.
      _
      The offenders were not handcuffed however – and author should have known the reason – because there is no punishment in tironut (IDF training course) during Shabbat/Holidays.
      _
      Whatever the Israeli society thinks on the issue could clearly could be seen in the comments – only one in 30-40 somehow supports such behavior.

      Reply to Comment
    4. caden

      Pigs do fly. Have to agree with Gurvitz on this one.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Philos

      I fear that Israel will be “Lebanonized,” which is a frightening prospect for global stability given that we’re nuclear armed.
      .
      The worst part of this is that all this trouble was preventable. We have to abandon Zionism, reform Judaism and encourage Republicanism. It’s the only way to save Israel and ALL it’s different peoples.

      Reply to Comment
    6. aristeides

      I’ve never known a Jew who wouldn’t invite a Gentile to the seder table.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Michael

      I can believe there were few racists within the soldiers, I may even understand that one stupid commander gave up to the pressure and moved the Druze and Beduin to a separate table. The unbelievebale is that no one of the “Jewish” soldiers has shown solidarity and moved to sit with the discriminated. These soldiers don’t have Jewish instict, they don’t know about ghetto benches in Poland http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghetto_benches

      Reply to Comment
    8. XYZ

      When are Muslims going to invite Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims to visit Mecca, see the Kaaba and the pilgrimage? As of now they are forbidden.

      Reply to Comment
    9. XYZ, what does that have to do with anything? And I assume they will do so as soon as non-Jews would be allowed in the Jewish temple.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Shaun

      “אני לא מוכן לשבת אם יש פה ערבים”.
      Can anyone corroborate this story?

      I would image there would be more than just a walla (and a copy in Hona) story about the incident.

      If it really happened at Machane 80 it would surprise a lot of people since the base is generally seen at the training base of the Education corps Jobkikim. Not exactly the hotbed of kippa wearing settlers or combat veterans…

      Reply to Comment
    11. Shaun, read it till the end. The IDF spokesman confirmed the incident.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Beholder

      /offtopic
      >And I assume they will do so as soon as non-Jews would be allowed in the Jewish temple.
      Rather baseless assumption. Muslims are allowed to Christian shrines, actually no-one is checking visitors religion at the entrance to the very Holy Sepulchre, let alone any other site, at least in Israel; gentiles were allowed anywhere in Jerusalem and even inside the Temple outer yard, yet non-Muslims are forbidden of coming within 20-kilometers radius from Makka or Medina.
      _
      >The unbelievebale is that no one of the “Jewish” soldiers has shown solidarity and moved to sit with the discriminated.
      Should it be happening on a regular base – than it would be unbelievable indeed.
      However you should take in consideration that this shameful incident have taken place at boot camp, where young recruits are subjected to all kinds of stresses and where commanders are perceived as something almost divine – at least that’s what projected by commanders, like in any boot camp.

      Reply to Comment
    13. phlegmatico

      Israel’s National Sport is complaining. Show me some Druze yordim, then i’ll think there’s any real change. After all, they carry the same passport as does Bar Rafaeli. And being more than just another pretty face, they could probably get a better job than being a Hollywood Celebrity’s Kos Sherutit Zmanit.

      >> American secular lefty Jews like myself are just as low as the Druze in the mind

      if y’all were a desireable asset, you’d be treated with respect. Not many of y’all lefties can weld or tailor a suite or repair a diesel engine. Your mostly focused on writing diatribes about TransGender Equality Studies, and the like. A mule is more useful to society than y’all are. Your baseline problem is not that you aren’t respected in Israel; it’s that you aren’t respected in America!!!

      Reply to Comment
    14. Ben

      I will be happy to share my seder with anyone; Druze, Palestinian, Israeli Jewish, Iranian, Turkish, Kurd, Ethiopian, Ashkenazi/Mizrahi, anyone who wants to join.

      Reply to Comment
    15. palestinian

      I didnt know Israelis are so kind and dont mind sharing their meal with gentiles,would they mind sharing their “loot” with the indigenous population ?

      Reply to Comment
    16. Shaun

      Yossi

      I read the dumb Dover Tzahal response that walla and other sites copied. Yet the DOver tzhal site nothing.

      An event like this must have been whitnessed by other soldiers yet nothing exists that isn’t a copy of the walla version of the event.

      Reply to Comment
    17. AnnaB

      I’m sorry but WHAT THE HELL is WRONG with (a segment of) Israeli society that this kind of disgusting racism is at least somewhat (if not very) openly acceptable? There are racist individuals in every country/society, yes. There will always be ignorant, hateful individuals. But for some people to feel no shame or see nothing wrong with such openly disgusting behavior (while employed by the army no less!), to obviously believe it appropriate and acceptable…I’m sorry but there is not one person who can convince me that it is not representative and endemic of a society wide problem that has no justification whatsoever in 2012. I’m really disgusted by that and most of all, I’m disgusted anyone would still not feel any shame in defending the monster that creates and enables this vile bigotry, the racist, outdated, immoral Zionist project. It’s beyond me how any decent person can see ANY good out of the type of society and individuals required for such a demented project. Ultimately its all about hate, discrimination, inequality, abuse and oppression. Shame, shame, shame. What an ugly prospect clearly demonstrated by another shamelessly racist indoctrination product of a shamelessly racist ideology.

      Reply to Comment
    18. phlegmatico

      >> would they mind sharing their “loot” with the indigenous population

      having a poor historical memory of whom y’all genocided to grab Judea, doesn’t make you the “indigenous” population.

      Y’alls ain’t gonna get back “Al Andalus”, and likewise, ya also ain’t gonna get back “Palestine”. We’ll take y’alls to hell with us, if you try.

      focus your eyes on the palace in Amman. It’s the only realistic chance you’ve got. Better wake up and smell the coffee, before the Turks grab it…. again.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Woody

      Why is it that whenever anyone reports discriminatory preference by Jews over non-Jews, a whole host of naysayers appear? Maybe they’re Americans, so they view it as a secret that must be preserved in order to maintain success, I dunno. However, in my experience in Israel, a GREAT DEAL of social interaction is imbued with an “us Jews” vs “the goy” mentality. I totally trust Yossi’s story because I’ve witnessed this behavior on the regular – I see no reason why the army, the distillation of these values “under fire” wouldn’t also represent the public as a whole and straight up discriminate. Stop looking for “the proof”, unless you totally avoid all non-Jews, then you’ve experienced and probably participated in such an “us v. them” ritual.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Shaun

      “Stop looking for “the proof”,
      Thanks for this…

      Reply to Comment
    21. C. Bendavid

      Those soldiers and the stupid army officer who accepted to bow to the pressure of Jewish fanatics do not represent the Israeli society as a whole. Using this sad event for political purposes is deceitful. By the way, Israel never declared itself Jewish before being democratic. According to the Supreme court, Israel is both Jewish and democratic at the same time. There is no contradiction in both of these definitions, its not a zero-sum game.. According to the Supreme court, Israel is a Jewish state because it is the embodiement of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination (otherwise the state of Israel would not exist) and a democratic state, because the country belongs to all its citizens, and they all have the same rights.
      Maybe this principle is not respected (largely because of the constant state of war) , but still, there is no contradiction between the Jewish and the
      democratic character of Israel

      Reply to Comment
    22. meir turner

      I was not at the IDF seder and cannot vouch for what happened and whether there was some disgusting individual there who said those words, and whether in fact the the Druze soldiers were “ordered” to move to a “dirty” side table. If that really happened in this manner I too would make the person pay for his deeds and words. But I want to raise another point here. A Passover seder is a religious ceremoney, not just a dinner, and if you read the hagada shel pesach you will see that it is meant for those who consider themselves Jews. The Druze religion excludes all non Druzim from their rites. In fact they are extremely secretive about them, as is their right. I don’t think it is appropriate for a Jew to celebrate Christmas and I don’t think it is appropriate for a Christian or Druze or Moslem or Buddhist to celebrate Passover. Using your reasoning, why not suggest that the Druzim also celebrate Rosh Hashana and observe Yom Kippur.The Seder is not just a festive dinner. There a many very unfair and distorted characterizations in the Druze article. Just one example, the author speaks about a Jewish race (Geza in Hebrew), well, this is what a Nazi or rabid anti-Semite would write. One does do not have to be born to Jewish mother to be Jewish. Anyone can convert to Judaism. And in any case, there are Jews of various ethnicity. There are Japanese Jews, for example, so to speak of Jewish race or to ascribe the idea of a Jewish race to some Jewish fanatic is ridiculous. The head of Neturey Karta some decades ago was married to a giyoret, a German woman, born Lutheran, who converted to Judaism and married an ultra-ultra orthodox man and she was accepted by the entire community. The other story this writer tells about a Druze who “by popular demand” recited the Friday night kiddush is an equally inappropriate act and makes a travesty of the religion. I suppose those Jews, who had a non Jew recite the kiddush would also, out of solidarity with Christian friends would go with them to church and have the priest put a wafer in their mouth, partaking in the symbolic rite of eating a piece of Jesus. Mr. Gurevitz, you are pathetic.

      Reply to Comment
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